STUART McCall is poised to become manager of Rangers until the end of the season as the club’s new board attempt to salvage their faltering bid for promotion.
An iconic member of the Rangers squad which won nine successive league titles in the 1990s, McCall is understood to have agreed in principle to return as manager on an initial short-term deal.
No official announcement from the club will be made until they have addressed the contractual position of current caretaker manager Kenny
McDowall, who has been serving a 12-month notice period since tendering his resignation in January.
But McCall is expected to be in charge of Rangers for the first time when they face Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday.
Dave King and his fellow directors were stung into action by Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at home to Queen of the South, which extended McDowall’s miserable run of results since he replaced Ally McCoist following his departure on gardening leave in December.
It’s a job that most people with connections to the club, or who have it at heart, would find difficult to turn down.Stuart McCall
At his media conference following his landslide success at last Friday’s general meeting of shareholders at Ibrox, King had played down the prospects of a quick managerial appointment and expressed the hope regime change at the club would have a “galvanising effect” on the team’s performances on the pitch. But Saturday’s dismal goalless draw at Cowdenbeath and then Tuesday’s slip against Queens persuaded King that an urgent change was in fact necessary.
Rangers have only won one of their last seven games in all competitions, with McDowall overseeing just three victories in his 10 games at the helm. That run has seen the team drop 12 points from their last eight league fixtures.
It leaves Rangers in third place in the Championship table. With Hearts all but certain to win the title and gain automatic promotion to the Premiership, Hibs have become favourites to finish as runners-up, which entails playing one fewer tie in the end-of-season play-offs.
Rangers are now even anxiously looking over their shoulders at Queen of the South and Falkirk, just six and seven points behind them respectively, in the race to finish in the top four and claim a place in those play-offs.
King told Sky Sports News, as he prepared to board a flight home to South Africa yesterday, that McDowall was doing a “difficult job in difficult circumstances” but stressed he would not shy away from doing “whatever it takes to give the club the best chance of promotion this season”.
In assessing the two matches he had watched while back in Scotland, King admitted that “the playing side is in need of a huge injection of energy”.
Rangers have now turned to McCall in a bid to deliver the boost they require to reinvigorate the first team squad for the final two months of the season.
The 50-year-old has been out of front line coaching since November when he resigned as manager of Motherwell after four largely successful years at the Fir Park club.
On limited resources and with a regular turnover of key players, McCall led Motherwell to the Scottish Cup Final in 2011 and to three successive top-three finishes in the top flight of Scottish football from 2012 to 2014 inclusive. He remains warmly regarded by Rangers supporters for his playing service to the club as a combative but also skilful midfielder from 1991 to 1998. McCall made 265 appearances for Rangers, scoring 20 goals, and won ten major domestic honours during Walter Smith’s first spell as manager.
It remains to be seen if McCall will be able to combine his full-time role at Rangers with his part-time duties as Scotland coach. He has become a valued member of Gordon Strachan’s technical staff since joining the Scotland set-up in January 2013.
When he was asked last week about the possibility of managing Rangers, McCall said: “Obviously Rangers is a huge club. But in any job in football, a team has got to want you to be involved with them and then you look into it. It’s a job that most people with connections to the club, or who have it at heart, would find difficult to turn down. I really enjoy what I do at Scotland. I was fortunate at Motherwell. I could do both. I would imagine 90 per cent of the opportunities I have to go back into the game will mean I can’t do both.”
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